In Brunello We Trust: a in depth look at the 2007 vintage

Last Monday night, my fellow Italian wine lovers of Bibemus (In Italy We Trust) headed to Carlton Wine Room to look at a number of Brunello di Montalcino from the 2004 vintage. It was a great night with some fantastic wines. I think what it highlighted to me, is just how varied the region of Montalcino in style (even greater reason for subregions?) and vintage with 2007 throwing up some real oddballs.

We started the night with a bracket of four Franciacorta NV. The Bellavista Gran Cuvee and Ca del Bosco were the stars and showed just why they are considered the best. The Monte Rossa was also very good and was only a smidgen behind these wines. The real disappointment was the Montenisa, which looked flat and tired. This might have been due to a freshness/storage issue.

Wine rock star Dan Sims sniffing his way through a bracket of 2007 Brunello di Montalcino

We then got into main course with three brackets of 2007 Brunello di Montalcino. The wines we looked at from 2007 were:

Casanova di Neri

Mastrojanni

Poggio Antico

Costanti

Fuligni

Il Palazzone

Querce Bettina

Frescobaldi Castelgiacondo

Argiano

The estate of Il Palazzone in Montalcino

When looking at all the wines as a group, there was no uniformity in style or varietal characteristics. The best wines of the group showed fantastic freshness and perfume, balanced with a savoury and textured palate. The worst wines of the group were full of oak, showed no Sangiovese characteristics and for all we knew, could have been Barossa Shiraz.

The region of Montalcino is so varied with altitude, aspect and soil types varying greatly from vineyard to vineyard and producer to producer. Like Barolo and Barbaresco, it would be fantastic if the idea of subregions or cru’s could be implemented in Montalcino. It would give people a better understanding in the differences of terrior in Montalcino.

If you want to go into great depth of Brunello di Montalcino, Kerin O’Keefe has written a fabulous book called Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines (University of California Press) detailing the region, it’s wineries and the need for sub regions in Montalcino. I highly recommend it.

Kerin O’Keefe’s Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines.

Brunello has burgeoned in my wine-drinking lifetime from a few more than half a dozen producers, mostly clustered around the medieval hill town of Montalcino, to well over two hundred, scattered all over the very diverse territories of the Brunello zone. Keeping track of that highly differentiated production – much more making sense of it – is a monumental task. O’Keefe has managed to do it by dint of persistence and equally monumental effort. As she puts it, “Rather than merely sit in my office and taste thousands of wines every year, I’ve visited all the Brunello estates profiled in the following chapters, some several times, and many more that are not in the book. I’ve spent years researching Brunello di Montalcino. . . . I’ve walked producers’ vineyards, visited their cellars, and talked for hours with the winemakers and their families. . . . I take [lengthy trips] to Montalcino every year.” Tom Maresca on ‘Brunello di Montalcino by Kerin O’Keefe

In regards to the wines, the two best wines for me were the 2007 Fuligni and Querce Bettina. They showed the exact characterictics which I like in Brunello di Montalcino.

The worst two wines were the Argiano (didn’t taste like Brunello to me) and Frescobaldi Castelgiacondo (too big in every sense). These wines to me highlighted the 2007 vintage and the producer.

Carlton Wine Room cellar

The dinner was hosted at Carlton Wine Room (in the cellar) and it was fantastic. Our host Jay did an amazing job and the food was outstanding. We finished the night with a small bracket of 2001 Brunello di Montalcino and it was a fitting way to finish a great night.

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